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They Say – New Moms Are Dangerous Drivers

By bethanysanders |

2549251853_d92368233aNew moms might be better off staying home and taking a nap than getting behind the wheel of their car.  That’s according to a new study out of Australia, where researchers claim that sleep-deprived moms are at higher risk of an accident when they get behind the wheel.

Researchers at the Queensland University of Technology’s Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety interviewed 24 mothers between the ages of 22 and 39 and asked them to keep post-partum sleep diaries.

The women reported that sleep loss — which went well beyond six weeks — led them to have difficulty concentrating on simple tasks, made them feel like they were in a “haze” or on autopilot. The women also reported tuning out while behind the wheel and having trouble dealing with distractions — who among us has not tried to hunt down a lost pacifier and blindly tried to replace it in a crying baby’s mouth? — while driving.

Dr. Kerry Armstrong, who helped lead the study, says that this level of fatigue can have major implications when a person is on the road. She said in an interview with

“To put the danger of fatigue into some sort of perspective – if someone is awake for 17 hours they have a driving performance similar to that of a person with a blood alcohol level of 0.05 per cent. And if they have been awake for 24 hours it is 0.1 per cent, or two times the legal driving limit. This has serious implications for mothers suffering from interrupted sleep patterns, night after night and sometimes for several years.”

While this study didn’t show that new moms are actually getting in more accidents, Dr. Kerry and her researcher partner, Dr. Simon Smith say that their study shows that new moms are a high-risk group that need intervention and education on the risks of driving while sleep-deprived.

It may also be yet another argument for a longer, more realistic maternity leave.  What do you think?

Photo: abardwell, Flickr

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0 thoughts on “They Say – New Moms Are Dangerous Drivers

  1. Sam says:

    Why should you limit bad driving to new moms. Report the truth and state: women are dangerous drivers.

  2. Actually: …. :)

    Thanks for reading and commenting!

  3. feefifoto says:

    Comments I definitely needed more time off. After my daughter was born I drove away from a gas station with the hose still stuck to my car. Wow, those things are expensive!

  4. Mistress_Scorpio says:

    Wow, sleepy people are less safe drivers than well-rested drivers. Next up, breaking news… water is wet.

  5. MomofBeans says:

    Don’t feel too bad about doingthis, feefifoto. My father did this a few years ago. He was 47 and well-rested.

  6. Eric says:

    Bethany, the researcher in the article you cited is extremely scary. “And the author of the research says he takes it to heart when he travels — his wife takes the wheel. ‘I put a mitt in my mouth and ride shotgun,’”
    Okay, does what you have in your pants make you a better driver? Really?

  7. Bethany says:

    Eric – I certainly don’t think so, which is why I was just trying to show Sam that the old “women are terrible drivers” myth doesn’t really stand up to scrutiny. I think that parents, though, drive best when there are two adults in the car — one to pay attention to the road and the other to pay attention to the kids. At least in my own experience!

  8. Eric says:

    I agree Bethany, I just found it humorous that this ‘man of science’ thought that having his wife drive makes him safer.

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